Tortoiseshell Tofu

READY IN: 20mins
Recipe by Nose

This dish gets its name from the look of the glossy amber-colored sauce swirled over the tan tofu. You should enjoy the taste and texture of tofu to try this dish -- it's its own flavor, not pretend meat -- so use a good, quality tofu. This is silky, savory, and tasty, and more than the sum of its simple parts. From Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, by Shizuo Tsuji. Note: I have never added salt to anything containing soy sauce... until this dish. The recipe really does need it.

Top Review by Kumquat the Cat's friend

There was a minor mishap in my kitchen when I made this dish, so I left the tofu on to boil too long, and therefore I think too much of the liquid boiled off because when I went to put in the cornstarch it was much too thick. Well I managed to salvage it, and even with all my mistakes it turned out to be one tasty recipe, so why wait until I make it again to review?! Thanks Nose, by BF also thought it was fantastic! Note I used pickled fresh ginger as a garnish because I didn't think unpickled fresh ginger would taste very good and used vegetable broth instead of dashi. P.S. Although I used silken tofu, I was confused as to why the other types needed to be pressed.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 cups dashi (see recipe 77195) or 2 cups low-fat chicken broth
  • 1 12 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 (18 ounce) package silken tofu or 1 (18 ounce) packageother tofu, but then see below
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon shredded fresh ginger


  1. If you are using anything other than silken tofu, you will need to press it for an hour-- but do NOT press silken tofu; it will crumble.
  2. Mix dashi, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn down to a simmer.
  4. Taste: the flavor will be out of balance, a bit too sweet.
  5. Add salt a bit at a time, tasting often, until the flavors are balanced.
  6. Cut the tofu cake into four equal pieces and carefully slide them into the pot.
  7. Be careful to keep the heat at a simmer-- higher heat will make the tofu crumble.
  8. Ladle the liquid over the top and sides until the tofu is heated thoroughly, about 4 minutes.
  9. With a spatula, gently remove the tofu pieces to deep individual dishes, 2 pieces per serving.
  10. Keep the pot on the heat.
  11. Mix the water and cornstarch and add to the simmering liquid.
  12. Stir until thickened, about 1 minute.
  13. Ladle the thickened sauce over the heated tofu.
  14. Garnish with ginger.
  15. Eat with teaspoons rather than chopsticks; this is very soft.
  16. For Vegetarian use Dashi.

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